Jewish World Review Nov. 24, 2004/ 11 Kislev, 5765

Wesley Pruden

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Giving no quarter for cut throats | Our European cousins think we're a nation of thugs because we won't indulge cutthroats and assassins in the name of sophisticated cowardice and nuanced poltroonery.

Some of us, like the pituitary freaks who run up and down a basketball court in gaudy underwear and leap into the stands to beat up women and children, really are thugs.

Others are merely direct-action guys. George W. Bush saw his bodyguard in trouble with Chilean cops and, like any red-blooded president before him, jumped into the security scrum to pull him out of harm's way.

And some of the best direct-action men among us are those in khaki and green, dispatched to protect the nation's security on a far-flung battle line with no design for "dominion over palm and pine." We must hope that the superiors of such men, judging in the comfort and safety of a Pentagon sinecure, show the mien and mettle of the men they command, particularly the Marine brought up on charges because he shot an insurgent gunman, whom he and his mates perceived as a live and deadly threat, ready to depart to collect his 72 virgins.

Someone who has never been on a battlefield cannot know how lethal the killing field always is, or recognize the snares and risks, and feel the fear that is the lot of men sent to kill or die. There are no ACLU lawyers to call when an enemy playing dead is about to pull the pin on a grenade or the trigger of a rifle with the last of his dying strength.

A letter from a Marine officer in Fallujah, posted on the Internet (, demonstrates how and why protecting yourself and your men is not murder or manslaughter, but good judgment.

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"As the Marines cleared an apartment building," he writes, "they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man's leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway. [Another Marine] tossed a grenade into the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, [the] grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety. The grenade went off inside the room and [a Marine] threw another in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood, and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine. You have to understand that a grenade goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled. Marines usually let them 'cook off' for a second or two before tossing them in. Therefore, this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds."

He cites a second example. "A squad leader was wounded as his squad was clearing a house when some enemy threw pineapple grenades down on top of them. As he was getting triaged, the doctor told him that he had been shot through the arm. [The squad leader] told the doctor that he had actually been shot 'a couple of days ago' and had given himself self-aid on the wound ... He firmly told the doctor that he was a squad leader and did not have time to get treated as his men were still fighting. There are a number of Marines who have been wounded multiple times but refuse to leave their fellow Marines.

"It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. The enemy they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near-dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense, and the Marines delivered.

"Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of all is that the morale of the men is sky high. They hurt for the wounded and the dead, but they are eager to continue to attack. Not one of them would be comfortable with being called a hero even though they clearly are."


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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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